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The Goals of History in Motion

The goals of History in Motion are;

  • To improve the teaching, learning, and experiencing of history for everyone from grade-school students to lifelong learners.
  • To build a Wikipedia-like community of history enthusiasts who create, exchange, and discuss historical scenarios.

A Message from the Founder

Paul - HiM headshot.jpg

Hello!  I'm Paul Cashman, creator/founder of History in Motion.  I've been interested in history since I was a child.  I think my interest started when I was nine years old and the Israeli secret service kidnapped Adolf Eichmann, who later stood trial and was executed for his crimes.  During that period (1960 - 62), there were several TV documentaries about the Holocaust, and I was exposed to a world very far removed from my quiet suburb.  I started reading books from the "adult" section of our local library, trying to understand what happened and how people who didn't seem to be all that different from my neighbors could behave as they did.  (I'm still trying to understand it.)  There were also TV shows on recent history, such as The Twentieth Century with Walter Cronkite, and Victory at Sea.  Through the generosity of an aunt who worked in a book printing company, I got many of the Landmark series of history books for kids.  I was fascinated by the stories, and began to comprehend that our world today is the way it is because of what happened years or centuries or millennia before.  

One thing I could never really understand was military history, especially accounts of battles.  I never understood the critical role of terrain, or getting a geographically advantageous position, or how the right flank of one army moved against the left flank of another.  I enjoyed maps, but their static quality didn't help me to understand what was happening in the history that occurred in those places.

In 2002 I read Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace.  I knew a lot of the city from visits to my grandparents and other relatives, and as I read the book I thought how great it would be to walk around the city with the book and know, wherever you stood, what had happened there, who had lived nearby, how the ethnic composition had changed over time, and so on.  Well, clearly, I didn't want to carry a five-pound book around; what I wanted was to be able to ask questions via a personal digital assistant (as they were called in those pre-iPhone days).  The technology for making this happen was just emerging, but I had no business model to support development, nor the time to do it myself.

In 2008, a chance conversation with some teachers led me to revisit the idea as something that could be used both in the classroom and in the field.  I prototyped a scenario using Google Earth, showing the first day of the New York City Draft Riots, July 13, 1863.  I found a book online, published a few months after the riots, that described the hour-by-hour experiences of all the police precincts in Manhattan during the four days of the riots.  This gave me very detailed time and location data.  But Google Earth had no user interface for creating and editing events, and there was no way to control the rate at which historical time passed.  I decided to build an app someday that would remedy those shortcomings -- and, incidentally, help me to understand military history better by showing the battles actually moving across the terrain in "real time."

In June 2013, I decided the time had come.  The app I envisioned in 2002 is History in Motion, and it is ready now.  I invite you to check it out and let me know what you think.